Over recent months, the government and leading housing charities have put increasing pressure on landlords to improve the quality of rental accommodation and tenancy conditions. Earlier this month the House of Commons had a second reading of the Private Members’ Bill, which aims to raise standards of rental accommodation.
The government is pushing all landlords - both social and private sector- to ensure their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the tenancy and this has accelerated in the wake of the Grenfell tower disaster.
Further legislation, which begins in April 2018, requires properties to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) above an E rating, in order to be leased with a new tenancy. Much of this legislation is designed to drive out rogue landlords from the market and it remains to be seen if it will be successful.
However, the vast majority of landlords are providing good quality rental accommodation to their tenants. So what can they do to attract new tenants and keep them happier?
Recent research from ARLA [Association of Residential Letting Agents] shows that in December 2017, more agents had more stock on their books than at any time since early 2015. With the huge rise in Build-to-Rent accommodation and the growth of BTL landlords, tenants are now seeing a growth in choice. This means tenants can expect more from managers, so landlords need to set themselves apart to attract them.
Landlords need to ensure they have the right processes in place to attract good tenants and keep them happy during the duration of their tenancy. Our research shows that tenants want to be listened to and to believe that the person that manages them is professional. They don’t want a friend, rather an arms-length professional relationship. It’s their home until it’s not. They pay rent and expect a service.
Communication is key. Listening to tenants involves largely reacting to issues during the tenancy and technology can be an excellent aid. There are smartphone apps now available that allow tenants to flag and track problems with a property, giving them the comfort and reassurance that they may have not experienced before in previous accommodation. Tenants are able to sign contracts and extend their tenancy, or action a break clause - all via a Smartphone app.
Responding to tenant queries quickly, giving them plenty of notice before entering the property for inspections and viewings and offering flexible leases, goes a long way to keeping them happy.
Impressing new tenants at the start of the tenancy is important too. Processing an application quickly and efficiently will build goodwill and tenant trust. By giving a tenant software that holds you accountable, the tenant is far more likely to trust you quickly during a potentially fractious part of their tenancy, the move-in.
When a landlord has a good relationship with their tenant, issues such as late, or no payment of rent and damage to property may be minimal. Maintaining a good relationship with a tenant requires some effort from the landlord and it won’t be achieved by putting tenants into a property and then ignoring them. Neither will it be developed by micro-managing and constantly checking on the tenants, while they are trying to get on with their lives. With the right processes in place, landlords can keep tenants happy and it can be a win-win for everyone!
Rochelle Trup is the finance director of Arthur, an online property management software company.